Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Italian Cookery with Silvia Todesco – Pesto alla Genovese sauce” recipe: ten tricks for the best result

Welcome to the first post from Silvia Todesco in 2020 and today a classic sauce that is an essential element of Italian cooking… homemade Pesto Sauce.

Pesto alla Genovese sauce” recipe: ten tricks for the best result

Buon giorno a tutti! Now that I am back to my routine, I catch myself thinking about my Italian vacation pretty often, and of course many of these memories are about food and one in particular sounds perfect for this time of the year: my family’s “Pesto Alla Genovese sauce” recipe, which my mom prepared for us right after having harvested her beautiful basil from her garden.

Before starting with ingredients and method, I should share with you those 10 simple tricks that would make your pesto the best one ever: the whole point, of course, is using the fresher basil possible, but there are other factors that would help your sauce to be more tasty and bright, avoiding it to turn darker and sour:

  1. If you grow a garden, harvest your basil only few minutes before preparing the sauce;
  2. If you can choose, use basil with small leaves, or big and large leaves but avoid the type with long and narrow leaves because it tastes a little like mint;
  3. I know it sounds gross, but if you grow your own basil and don’t use chemical, don’t rinse the leaves under water because you will loose a lot of its taste and perfume. You can just pat gently the leaves with a clean cloth trying not to break them: the more you press, the more you’ll ruin the leaves, more likely your basil will get black spots (oxidize) and give your pesto a sour aftertaste.
  4. Even if the ancient would use a mortar and pestle to prepare the sauce (which for sure will be the more authentic way to prepare it), it’s ok to use the food processor. BUT – always to contain the chances of oxidation – keep the food processor’s blade in the refrigerator or freezer for at least half an hour before preparing your sauce.
  5. Use only coarse salt: it will help the chopping process.
  6. Don’t process the sauce too much: it has to be crumbly and not too smooth. And be fast at preparing it: one of the causes of oxidation is the exposition to oxygen… the faster your work, the less chance you have to oxidize your sauce.
  7. Commonly the Genovese pesto requires the use of pine nuts, but don’t be surprise if you’d hear from other Italians that you should use walnuts instead: every Italian family has – in the years – modified the original recipe.
  8. Commonly Pesto sauce requires Pecorino cheese as main ingredient, but personally I prefer using only Parmesan, or possibly Parmesan and Pecorino. Your choice, follow your taste!
  9. If you can, take away the interior part of the garlic clove (in Italy we call it the garlic “soul”), because that part itself is a little sour and would leave that taste to the sauce.
  10. Use the best Extravergin olive oil available: the sauce is raw, so the taste of the oil will not be covered by anything. The best the oil tastes, the best your pesto will taste as well!

Now that I’ve annoyed you with my mom’s tip for the best pesto sauce ever, here the ingredients to dress about 1.5 lbs of pasta or 6-8 pasta servings (P.S. I had to spy on her and force her to weight the ingredients because – of course – she always eyeballs those!!!)

Ingredients for a sauce which would dress 6-8 servings of pasta

  • 1 pinch (about 10 gr. – 0,3 oz.) coarse salt
  • about 3.5 oz. (100 gr.) fresh basil
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled an deprived of the “soul”
  • about 3.5 (100 gr.) parmesan (or half parmesan half pecorino)
  • about 3.5 oz. (100 gr.) extravergin olive oil
  • about 1 oz. (30 gr.) pine nuts


In your food processor with a freezing cold blade, place IN ORDER the basil, garlic and coarse salt and nuts first: chop intermittently for few second (the heat of the food processor could oxidize the basil).

Next add the pecorino or parmesan grated or cut in cubes and keep chopping until your sauce looks even but still crumbly (again, chop intermittently, few seconds at a time).

Only at the end pour the olive oil a little at a time, activate the food processor for a few seconds. And you are done.. dress your pasta… and enjoy this deliciousness!


TIPS: – IF YOU HAVE TO, you can store the fresh made sauce in a sealed container for not more than 2-3 days making sure the top of the sauce is completely covered by a layer of olive oil.

– The sauce can be frozen, and should let thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature (no microwaves please!).

– Pesto sauce can be used also on top of pizza, or with bruschetta. There are really many ways to eat it!

– In LIGURIA (the Italian Region where pesto tradition comes from), they sometimes dress the pasta with both tomatoes sauce and pesto. OMG it’s delicious!

– Always in LIGURIA they cook the pasta (usually the short kind called “trofie” – see picture below) with potatoes cubes and green beans, and when cooked they mix it with Pesto sauce…. OMG this is even better!

WHAT DO YOU THINK? What’s your favorite or traditional pesto recipe?

I hope my (or better, my mom’s) little tricks will help you mastering you pesto sauce!

If you live in the QUAD CITIES AREA (Iowa, USA) you can order desserts from Silivia from her Italian Home Bakery

My thanks to Silvia for another delicious recipe, and it would be great if you would share your feedback and the post for others to enjoy and subscribe to Italian Goodness if you would like to receive a new recipe each week for free.

About Silvia Todesco

I’m Silvia, I come from Veneto Region (from Bassano del Grappa precisely, one hour by car far from Venice), and I moved to Iowa in 2011, because of my husband’s job necessities.

I’ve grown up watching my great-grandmother, my grandmother, and my mother cooking for my family every day, searching carefully for ingredients and preparing fresh food. That was their way to show us how much they cared (and care) about us, and to carry on a tradition. I cannot recall a festivity without relatives everywhere and tons of delicious food to eat!

But my way was different I graduated with honors at the University of Law of Padua, and (obviously) I became a lawyer. As a professional, I used to work 14 hours a day, and, of course, the time I could dedicate to my family (and cooking) was almost none.

Then fate brought us here, and finally I’ve found myself. All my background came up, and I realized that taking care of my family is the most satisfying job I could do, especially because it entails cooking healthy and good food!

So I started to practice what I learned when I was young, and surprised myself in making all those meals that characterized my youth.

Integration in a new society is not easy, but it was nice for us to discover how much Italians are loved abroad! And since every new person we have met asked me if I was a good cook, and told me that they love Italian food, well, I decided to share my Italian cooking culture and recipes with you!

Of course, you won’t need to be an expert to follow my recipes! What I’m writing about is our daily menus- recipes made with simple and few ingredients, most of the time cheap and healthy (because the food is not processed).

Plus, considering my passion for cooking, I will also share with you new recipe I discovered in magazines, websites, or shared by friends, and in this case I will always describe you the origin of my posts objects.

In addition, I promise not only to write about Italian food, but especially to give suggestions related to where and how to find the right ingredients and tools you will need. I really hope that you will enjoy my tips!

Connect to Silvia

Website: Italian Goodness
Facebook: Italian Goodness Facebook
Instagram: Beauty and Four Kids
Twitter: @silviatodesco81
Pinterest: Silvia Todesco

You can find all the recipes for a four course Italian meal in this file and also Silvia’s monthly posts.

Thanks again for dropping by and as always your feedback and sharing of the post is very appreciated. Sally and Silvia




28 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Italian Cookery with Silvia Todesco – Pesto alla Genovese sauce” recipe: ten tricks for the best result

  1. Thanks. I love pesto. The best I ever tasted was when we were in Genoa. My friend makes her own and freezes it in ice cube trays. When she needs some she takes out a couple of cubes and defrosts them in the fridge. So clever.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My heritage is Southern Italian and I’ve been making pesto since I was hold enough to get some leverage with the mortar and pestle – I’m old, we didn’t have food processors in the Dark Ages LOL I forget sometimes that something this simple might need recipes and instructions – I’m a ‘peasant’ cook, like my parents and grandparents so I just throw things in a pot or pan – never measuring anything – which is probably why I will never be a gourmet cook, or even close!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Absolutely – something like pesto is exotic or new for someone…I’ve never in my life made a pot roast or roasted a turkey, tho I suspect it might be somewhat like roasting a chicken which I have done only a few times – I would absolutely have to look up a recipe for them (and so many other dishes!)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hello Grace! My grandma and mother always eyeball the ingredients… I’ve learnt how to cook from them, and by observing their quantities, I wrote down the recipes… this way my daughters will never forget our foo tradition!

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – 5th – 11th January 2020 – Count Basie, Phosphorus, Reviews, New Books, Bloggers and Funnies. | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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